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How to Choose an Ecommerce Platform

Evaluating & Evolving

2020 taught us a lot about how to navigate the ever-changing landscape of retail in this day and age. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was almost as if every business needed to find a way to conduct commerce digitally in order to survive.

Thanks to this driver, the digital operating model, and more specifically the technology that will enable the digital experience in the ecommerce platform has become more of a focal point in boardrooms then ever before.

When should I undertake a selection for a new ecommerce platform?

There are a few indicators that can determine when it’s time to look for a new ecommerce platform. Every business is different, but some of the most common factors are:

  • We do not have any ecommerce technology. The starting point, good news is you have a clean slate to build a solid foundation.
  • Our technology doesn’t have the functionality we need. Examples of this may be a business that has historically had a direct to consumer presence and now wants to enable ecommerce for their wholesale consumer. Be cautious about extending a technology to B2B that isn’t built for the complexities of such an environment.
  • Our wide technology environment has changed. Changes to other technology in the business that interoperates with your ecommerce platform may mean your current technology is no longer the best fit moving forward.

How should I approach selecting a new ecommerce platform?

With the transformation or migration of your ecommerce platform taking place so infrequently, the majority of businesses may not have the experience available internally to manage a process such as this effectively.

A framework that we have developed here at Pattern for supporting our clients and partners navigate this process is the 8 D’s of technology selection.

technology selection

A business can, and should go as deep as they need to in each of the framework areas to achieve the outcome, ultimately the goal of the framework is to help drive a final decision that everyone is truly comfortable meets the needs of the business. Some of the considerations we when running this process are:

  • Take people on the journey. It’s important that all stakeholders are kept abreast of the process and any key decision points. Gone are the days where a selection was run in an IT or Digital silo. Omnichannel experiences means your retail and logistics teams play a key role in what the ecommerce platform will be tasked with delivering.
  • Determine KPI’s for the technology. Technology change is inherently driven by business strategy, especially when the technology is customer facing. Ensure that you have metrics or outcomes attached to the selected technology, it will help with both the transformation development and the business-as-usual functions.
  • Seek independent guidance. We are extremely fortunate to have such a high number of very good partners in the network today. Partners typically only specialise in a subset of the technologies available in the market and will have limited understanding of other technologies available. Ensure you are seeing the complete opportunity to best fit your business needs.
  • Understand your investment capacity upfront. This should be your total investment, which will include technology, platform, and people costs over a multi-year period.

Platform or Partner, what’s more important?

There is a very valid argument for both sides of this debate, however here at Pattern we see them as begin of equal strategic importance. It’s pivotal to treat your technology platform and implementation partner as a single relationship. You cannot understate the importance of a trusted partner that for the most part, holds the keys to the growth vehicle that you are investing in. A strategic partner can help you get the most out of the technology and ensure you are focusing on the right areas in a prioritized way. When reviewing your technology platforms as part of the process, ensure you are vetting the partner with the same robust process. Delve into their experience with the platform, your vertical, your stage in your business journey.

What platforms should I consider?

Ecommerce platforms are not a one size fits all, and for good reason as business inherently have differing needs technically, commercially, and strategically. For this reason, a side-by-side comparison of platforms will likely only provide the tip of the iceberg in terms of what these ecommerce platforms can do for your business and may provide more questions than answers. That said, if you are looking at a starting point for your ecommerce platform conversations the below technology providers are present in the majority of businesses we have worked with in the Australian retail market.

  • Business to consumer (B2C). Adobe Commerce (Magento), Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Shopify & Shopify Plus, Big Commerce, Commerce Tools
  • Business to business (B2B). SAP Commerce, Adobe Commerce (Magento), Big Commerce, Optimizely (Episerver), Commerce Tools, Oro Commerce

Get in touch

If you’d like to work with a dedicated team of tech specialists who understand just how to make the most out of your ecosystem, contact us today and connect with a member from our team.